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Solving the Challenges of Material Substitution…

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The explosion which rocked the coatings factory covered everything in reach with yellow paint.  While little physical damage was caused to actual plant, much product was lost due to cross-contamination, and the clean-up took weeks.  The cause was easily identified – two products with almost identical vendor item codes sat side-by-side in the staging area.  Although the code difference was a single letter, the use for those products was vastly different – one was for use only in water-based products, the other for use only in solvent-based products.  When the water-based material was tipped into a solvent mix, the results were catastrophic, especially for the worker who spent hours in hospital having yellow paint removed from nearly every orifice, and his hair and skin.

Of course, such mistakes in other sectors could have much more serious outcomes – contaminated products causing illness or death.

Making a change to the materials you use in your formulas may be by choice, or it may be forced on you.

–       New materials that are “greener” may be a good option to meet regulations or simply better marketing.

–       Vendor reasons:

  • Their source changes
  • The vendor may go out of business, or stop marketing that line.

–       Newer materials may be more effective, or cost-effective.

Any time a material changes, there are major challenges and questions to answer.

One of the common questions is: Do I simply replace the Vendor on the existing item, or create a new one?  Experience has shown that a new item is generally preferable.  There are several reasons for this:

–       It is critical that production staff can identify the correct product for inclusion in a batch, as evidenced in the introductory passage above.  While there is stock of both items in the warehouse, it makes sense to identify them separately.  The new item should have its own description clearly recorded so it can print on the work-order.

–       Keeping independent history of all items used makes good sense for many industries, and is absolutely required by others such as pharmaceuticals and food ingredients.

There are many challenges arising out of the need to change materials

The material to be replaced may used in hundreds of formulas, and in multiple levels of formulas.  BatchMaster process manufacturing software provides a function to substitute a material across any chosen range of formulas.  Selections can be made by Formula Class, or any other range of formulas.

The new material may have a higher level of active ingredient, and a smaller quantity of it is required relative to the old.  BatchMaster’s Material Substitution lets you decide what percentage of the new material to the old is required, and lets you decide how you want to adjust the formula back to its original – whether by adjusting another ingredient alone (such as water), or by sizing all materials proportionately to obtain the original weight or volume.

There may be some formulas where we can use the new material, but others where we cannot use it. BatchMaster’s Material Substitution lets you specify an additional which must be present before the substitution can be made.

There is a need to make sure that the whole formula’s physical properties are still within specification after the substitution is made.  BatchMaster’s powerful Laboratory module allows you to perform ‘what-if’ analysis of multi-level formulas, substituting the new material at the correct proportion and examining the physical property analysis for the whole product.

And lastly, of course, there is the work involved to make all the substitutions.  Set the parameters – range of formulas, percentage required, additional materials which must be present – add a reason for making the change, and BatchMaster will do the rest with a push of a button.  If you want, it can identify and display each formula where the substitution will be made and wait for your Ok before finding the next formula.

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